Rabbi Rachel Timoner
Congregation Beth Elohim, Brooklyn, New York
Rabbinic Human Rights Hero Award
Rabbi Timoner has turned her community into a hub of social justice action in Brooklyn, guiding congregants to take a stand for justice, welcome refugees, and speak up against the current administration’s attacks against our Muslim and immigrant neighbors.
Rabbi Rachel Timoner is the senior rabbi of Congregation Beth Elohim (CBE) in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where her passions are social justice, spiritual life, community building and lifelong learning.
Rabbi Timoner has launched several community organizing and social justice initiatives at CBE, including a Dismantling Racism Team which was part of the successful campaign to Raise the Age of criminal responsibility in New York and a successful action with Brooklyn’s District Attorney to address systemic racism in the prosecution of “broken windows” infractions, the bail system and discovery. In addition, in partnership with New York City Councilmember Brad Lander, she convenes #GetOrganizedBK, through which thousands of New Yorkers work together to defend democracy and human dignity in this time when both are under siege.
Previously, Rabbi Timoner served as associate rabbi of Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, where she supported its successful local community organizing work in economic justice and transportation, and was a leader in Reform California, a statewide effort that helped to protect undocumented immigrants and build affordable housing. She received a B.A. from Yale University, worked for 14 years in social justice efforts in the San Francisco Bay Area, and received ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2009, where she was a Wexner Graduate Fellow.
Rabbi Timoner is married to Felicia Park-Rogers and they have two sons, Benji and Eitan.
Rabbi Justin David
Congregation B’nai Israel, Northampton, Massachusetts
Rabbinic Human Rights Hero Award
Rabbi David brings people together across faiths and before the state legislature to protect the rights of LGBTQ people, create a sanctuary state for immigrants under attack, food security and more.
Rabbi Justin David has been the spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Israel since 2009. Before joining CBI, he was the assistant rabbi at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, DC, after having been ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
When not at B’nai Israel or involved in some community project, he can usually be found at home with his wife, Judy, and two sons, Lior and Ezra.
Rabbi Tom Gutherz and Rabbi Rachel Schmelkin
Congregation Beth Israel, Charlottesville, Virginia
Action Under Fire Award
Rabbis Gutherz and Schmelkin showed bravery and leadership when white nationalists descended upon their hometown, guiding their community to stand up against hatred, bigotry, and violence, and providing much-needed support during a dangerous time.
A native of Cleveland, Rabbi Tom Gutherz grew up in Rochester, New York.
He earned a bachelor of arts degree with a major in history at the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1977. He was a member of Kibbutz Gezer in Israel from 1984-1989, where he worked in preschool and primary school education and as a dairy farmer.
Rabbi Gutherz was ordained in 1993 by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (NY) and has over 35 years of experience in formal and informal Jewish education. He served as the rabbi of Agudath Sholom Congregation in Lynchburg, Virginia for 12 years, and taught as an adjunct professor in the Department of Religion at Lynchburg College. He was active in diversity education through the Metrotown program of the NCCJ (National Conference of Christians and Jews) and served on the Board of the Lynchburg Neighborhood Development Foundation.
Since 2005 he has served Congregation Beth Israel in Charlottesville, Virginia, first as rabbi educator and now as its senior rabbi. He is engaged in interfaith and social action work through IMPACT, the Charlottesville Community Leadership Council and the Charlottesville Clergy Collective.
He earned an MA in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia in 2014.
Rabbi Gutherz was married to the late Carmi Weiner for 35 years, and they have three children; Ilan, David and Tamar.
Rabbi Rachel Schmelkin began as rabbi educator in the summer of 2016 after serving her rabbinic internship and teaching at Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation in Reston, VA. She received her bachelor of arts in psychology and Jewish studies from Indiana University at Bloomington with minors in Hebrew and history. She was ordained through Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and was a recipient of the Tisch Rabbinical Fellowship as well as the Hoffman Prize in Liturgy.
Commissioner Chai Feldblum
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Washington, D.C.
Raphael Lemkin Human Rights Award
Chai Feldblum has been a commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged with implementing the nation’s employment civil rights laws, since April 2010. Prior to her appointment on the Commission, Feldblum was a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center where she founded the law school’s Federal Legislation Clinic and worked on behalf of social welfare and civil rights organizations.
Throughout her career, Feldblum has focused on social justice issues at the federal level. She played a leading role in drafting and negotiating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. She helped draft the federal bill to protect LGBT people from discrimination and has led the EEOC in protecting LGBT people under existing sex discrimination law. While at the EEOC, Feldblum has worked to advance employment protection for people based on race, sex, religion, disability, national origin and age.
Feldblum is the first openly lesbian commissioner of the EEOC and is the fourth person with a disability to serve on the Commission. She grew up in Washington Heights in New York City and comes from a long line of rabbis, Hasidic on one side and Litvak on the other. Feldblum attended Barnard College and Harvard Law School and clerked for Justice Harry A. Blackmun on the Supreme Court.